The strategic objectives and priorities of a country are crucial for achieving sustainable development.

The firm affirmation of the Republic of North Macedonia in regard to its EU membership, as well as the current status of a Party to the Energy Community Agreement, together form the basis for the legal framework in the country's energy sector and its standing within international frames.

As Eva Ellereit, the Director of the Friedrich-Ebert-StiftungOffice in Skopje has stressed in her opening statement of the promotion of the toolkit "The Legal Framework of the Electricity Sector in the Republic of North Macedonia and its International Standing", these commitments offer possibilities for a just transition of the energy sector, which through the process of decarbonization will create new jobs and protect the environment. Published by a group of professors from the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Information Technology in Skopje in collaboration with the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Office in Skopje, this toolkit analyzes the different aspects and phases on the electricity sector that would certainly benefit citizens and the country’s development in general.

- EU's energy strategy, called the Energetic Union, has five interdependent enhancing dimensions, which complement and assist each other in fulfillment. These are energy security; solidarity and trust; a fully integrated power market; energy efficiency, as a very important element in the whole EU strategy and the possibility for decreasing energy consumption; furthermore, decreasing climate changes, i.e., decarbonization and research, innovation, and competition. The essence of the proposed measures comes down to energy efficiency, a global leader in renewable energy, and a fair deal for consumers. A year ago, the EU came up with guidelines in order to implement its strategy, the so-called Green Deal. The goal is to transform the European economy in a modern and competitive one with the ability to efficiently use domestic resources. More precisely, to cease all net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, to separate the economic growth from the exploitation of resources, as well as not to leave any EU citizen or town without protection and appropriate care.  Therefore, we need just and inclusive policies for all, Prof. Vesna Borozan, Ph.D. explained.

According to Assist. Prof. Peter Krstevski, Ph.D. the most important part of the EU legislation is the legal framework that defines the steps to support the use of renewable energy sources and has to be defined in the national programs, as a mandatory objective for protection of the environment.

- The transition to clean energy is the most important objective. The preparation of integrated plans for energy and climate has already started in order to achieve this. Also, there is a need to merge the power markets and to form a functional regional power market for Southeast Europe. The functioning of the regional market is conditioned by the implementation of joint network rules. This is current, and by the end of 2021, these network rules should be implemented, Assist. Prof. Krstevski explained.

Assoc. Prof. Aleksandra Krkoleva Mateska, Ph.D., said that the goal of the “Gap Analysis of the Electricity Sector in the Republic of North Macedonia” is to review the reforms in the energy sector and the implementation level of the Energy Community's existing law.  - Significant steps were taken in all spheres that were the objectives of the analysis, for example, the separation and certification of the transmission system operator and appointing MEMO as the nominated operator on the power market. In the field of environment, the draft National Plan for Energy and Climate is prepared, and the Republic of North Macedonia is the first Energy Community contracting party to fulfill this task. The procedure to adopt a new Law on Climate Action, through which the EU Regulation 525/2013 will be transposed, has been launched. It will include a mechanism for monitoring and reporting on greenhouse gas emissions. However, it should be kept in mind that there are other tasks that need to be met in all spheres covered with the analysis and that this process needs to continue, hand in hand with the amendments made in the Energy Community and European legislation.

- The responsibilities that we took over, demanded that we decrease, step-by-step, the domestic production of electricity from power plants, and focus more on renewable sources of energy. Power Plants of North Macedonia (ESM) announced its plans to swap one of the units for natural gas by 2025. We have to be honest and say that the investment in renewable sources will have a proper impact on the prices, but also on the vulnerable consumers, which is why we, as a Commission, proposed mitigating measures to the Ministry of Economy, and the Ministry of Labor, particularly for these categories of consumers. Along with this process, we should invest in energy efficiency. We are not a rich country, these investments need to be Government-assisted, the Director of the Regulatory Commission on Energy and Water Services of North Macedonia, Marko Bislimoski, in addressing the audience and commenting the main recommendations of the toolkit.

According to him, the country has invested a lot in renewables, in photovoltaic power plants, which don't use state subsidies and sell the power on the free market. But additional mitigating measures are needed for increased production of electricity from renewable sources, as well as an urgent revamp of the transmission network, in order to increase the foreign investments in this branch.

The authors, professors from the University St. Cyril and Methodius, at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Information Technology, Prof. Vesna Borozan, Ph.D., Assoc. Prof. Aleksandra Krkoleva Mateska, Ph.D. and Assist. Prof. Peter Krstevski, Ph.D., have been working on the analysis of the legal framework of the power sector in the Republic of North Macedonia and its international standing, with emphasis on the achievements in the implementation of the reforms, as well as the definition of the remaining steps.

This publication, in which the authors completely explain the legal aspects of the energy transition in the country, has the objective to serve the future and ongoing discussions on the topic, by all stakeholders, including government institutions, civil organizations, unions, and the academic community. The commitment to create a social and just society where energy poverty is more than just a figure, and that will simultaneously complement each other with the challenges brought by the climate change, are an inseparable part of the motives of the European legislation.

The gap analysis, which is associated with this publication, provides us with clear and concise indications on the future steps in relation to further harmonization of the legal solutions while sticking to the positive aspects and opportunities that we should use as a country and as a region. The Publication is a result of a joint will and collaboration between the University "St. Cyril and Methodius", Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Information Technologies, Skopje (UKIM/FEIT), related to the European project from the program "Horizon 2020", Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Office in Skopje, and the Sarajevo-based Regional Office – FES Southeast Dialogue.

Within its scope of work, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung dedicates special attention to developing strategies and enhancing discussions regarding key issues related to economic and social challenges in the country and the region, as well as topics that open possibilities for improving democracy. The challenges ahead of the energy sector play a significant role in defining the future economic and social development of the country. At the same time, they provide opportunities for its democratization, not only through the participation of citizens in the decision-making process, but also through their active participation in all markets, either through producing electricity for its own consumption, exchange, sale, or by providing energy storage services. This is a unique opportunity for the end-users, which is a result of the transition towards renewable sources of energy, and could be called a just transition, only if it rightfully includes all stakeholders, especially the end-users, either as consumers-producers or through energy cooperatives, Ivana Vuchkova, Programme Coordinator at the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Office in Skopje, stressed.

All materials are available on the FES website, more precisely, the publication and gap analysis, as well as a special part for the project CROSSBOW on the UKIM/FEIT website.



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